Astronomy

What is the name of that which exists beyond the Universe?

What is the name of that which exists beyond the Universe?

"The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of existence" but that is more of a philosophical position. Empirically we know (or believe) that it is of finite size some believe it is expanding others that is (or will be) contracting.

As we gain knowledge about distant places, our scope of area has expanded from Planet, to Solar system, to Galaxy, to Universe. In the same way we continue to find smaller and smaller building blocks, from Elements, to Atoms, to Quarks.

It is reasonable to assume, that the same gains in knowledge the removed the burden from Atlas, will find the edge of the Universe, and something that is beyond that edge.

What is the name of that which exists beyond the Universe?

Naysayers, who may claim that there is "nothing" beyond universe, are reminded that their beliefs are no less strong than, those who claimed that "nothing" was supporting the Turtle or the Elephant who like Atlas also supported the world. Lack of knowledge does not mean lack of existence.


By definition, the capitalized word Universe denotes everything there is, so even if we one day discovered we're just a part of a Multiverse, all the parallel universes of it would still be parts of the Universe as a whole, where Multiverse would just describe its nature. Or, if some yet undiscovered regions of it would defy our current understanding of its physical laws and constants as we know them, all of it would still be a part of the whole Universe. So it really doesn't matter, if beyond the known universe, there are regions of honey, milk and chocolate biscuits and all of it is carried by a giant tortoise. All of it would be the Universe, the physical universe as we can observe, the honey, milk, chocolate biscuits and the tortoise. The lot. All of it. The whole shebang.

Notice that I use capitalisation here, i.e. you can have more than one universe, but they're all a part of the Universe. Without capitalisation, it's just any domain, a particular sphere in physical or metaphysical sense, and only a part of the whole Universe. Sadly, this capitalisation is often neglected or used inconsistently, as is often the case with earth vs the Earth (the top soil vs the planet), sun vs the Sun (any star with planets vs our Sol), moon vs the Moon (any natural satellite vs our Luna), even galaxy vs the Galaxy (any galaxy vs our Milky Way). For example, observable universe is a sphere, a region of space, within the Universe.

The beauty of this naming convention is, that we already know the name for (but not necessarily of) everything there is, even if we don't know or can agree on what all that encompasses, or what laws govern some regions of space, time, or some other, yet unknown existence of it. It is universally true regardless of anyone's beliefs, even if they choose to call all of it by other names or attribute this existence to a sentient being, super being, or God. We're all a part of everything there is - the Universe.


It is far from empirically known that the universe is finite in size. The observable universe is certainly of finite size, but that is just a product of the constraints of our observation. We don't know for sure whether the universe is finite or infinite, bounded or unbounded. [Source] What we do know is that right now the universe looks very flat as far as we can measure.

As mentioned in other answers, the Universe has traditionally been defined as "all that is", though in practice in astronomy it is this particular "field" of space-time that we exist in. New theories in physics have brought with them the possibility that there may be other universes in this sense. The word we use to encompass all possible universes is "the Multiverse". There are different types of universes proposed, and you can read a good summary of them in the Wikipedia Multiverse article. From there you might read of Brian Greene and others that you might want to pursue further. For example, Brian Greene has a book titled The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos which might be of interest to you.

Note: There is a sense in which we can say the universe is unbounded in 3D as mentioned in the linked source, but there are other senses in which the bounded/unbounded nature of the universe is questioned but which cannot be adequately discussed in this space.


There is another question being asked here, perhaps. We use the terms Extraterrestrial for that which is not from Earth, and Extrasolar for planets that do not orbit our star, Sol. The term Universe is humanity's current term for everything as we understand or know it. It can be argued that it encompasses everything, even if it is not knowable to us. This is all in terms of human use of language to describe phenomena.

The term 'Extrauniversal' could be used for something that is outside of 'Universe.' Of course, we, as humans, in our current experience have defined the Universe as 'everything,' in simple terms, but there is validity to a term that would incorporate something outside of everything.


Universe according to Wikipedia is :-

The Universe is all of space and time (spacetime) and its contents,[12] which includes planets, moons, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space and all matter and energy.

So, if we go by this meaning Universe is the space and time that was created as a result of the Big Bang that we currently live in.

Considering the theory of Big Bang is in fact true, this means that we (i. e. the Universe) is inside something and it is finite and if there is one Universe there can be many and all this is contained in something of extremely huge proportions which can be called as Multiverse. Now we don't know if this Multiverse is finite or infinite. If it is finite and this goes on and on and on each one will still be called as Multiverse atleast at this point of time.

Also, according to Wikipedia Multiverse is defined as :-

The multiverse (or meta-universe) is a hypothetical set of various possible universes including the universe which we live in.

It is more sensible to call everything that is created by the Big Bang as Universe because there may be other Universes which have completely different laws of Physics in which we won't even be able to exist.


Are We Alone? Scientists Discuss the Search for Life and Odds of E.T.

SALT LAKE CITY — What are the odds that alien life exists elsewhere in the universe? At a major physics meeting, experts talked about updates to historic predictions about whether humans are alone in the cosmos.

In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake wrote an equation to quantify the likelihood of finding a technologically advanced civilization elsewhere in the universe. The so-called Drake equation took into account factors such as the fraction of stars with planets around them and the fraction of those planets that would be hospitable to life.

In the years since 1961, scientists have updated the values in the Drake equation to incorporate newly acquired scientific information. For example, when Drake wrote his equation, scientists didn't know for sure if stars other than the sun had planets around them now, researchers have evidence that most stars host planets. But science wasn't the only thing that influenced Drake — even current events factor into his calculation. [The Father of SETI: Q&A with Astronomer Frank Drake]


Origins

The term was coined by economist Robin Hanson, who is also a research associate at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute (FHI). In 1996, Hanson published an essay titled “The Great Filter – Are We Almost Past It?” where he proposed that there must be something that prevents non-living matter from coming together to form living organisms (abiogenesis) and reaching a high level of development on the Kardashev Scale (see below).

This possibility, he claimed, does not bode well for humanity. As he summarized his argument:

“Humanity seems to have a bright future, i.e., a non-trivial chance of expanding to fill the universe with lasting life. But the fact that space near us seems dead now tells us that any given piece of dead matter faces an astronomically low chance of begating such a future. There thus exists a great filter between death and expanding lasting life, and humanity faces the ominous question: how far along this filter are we?”

Another great description was offered by Nick Bostrom, a philosopher who also hails from the FHI. As he described it in his 2008 essay, “Where Are They? Why I Hope the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Finds Nothing“:

“The Great Filter can be thought of as a probability barrier. It consists of [one or] more highly improbable evolutionary transitions or steps whose occurrence is required in order for an Earth?like planet to produce an intelligent civilization of a type that would be visible to us with our current observation technology.”


What is beyond the universe?

The universe is a concept of space and time. These two dimensions (so strongly associated with each other in relativistic physics that they are combined in the idea of space-time) may not exist outside this universe. The word "beyond" is already related to space-time. We cannot define what is outside, beyond, before, or after our universe because these concepts are only known to apply in the space-time universe itself. Time and space exist because this universe has these two dimensions. Other dimensions and concepts may be scattered across all that we do not know. It does not have to be time after this universe or by that matter before. For example, where does the mass that is pulled into black holes go to? It is clear that it is no longer in our space and time, because all that stellar matter would not fit in a single point. There is no simple answer to this question. Since we do not possess the capabilities to explore a space that is beyond our senses at the moment, we cannot know what is beyond. As it is unobservable, it is only a subject of our speculation. There are mysteries inside that we have not unraveled yet.


Decode Hindu Mythology

The Hindu New Year has just started and Chaitra Navratri gets over today. Calculations tell us that we are in the 5114th Year of the Era of Kaliyuga , a thought that was enough to get me started on an exploration of the scriptures once again.

Hindu scriptures have always used mind-boggling numbers for the Age of the Universe and the Gods inhabiting it. For example, Brahma , the Creator-God, has an impressive life span that runs into trillions of Solar Years!

The 'Chemical locha'in my brain makes me look for a scientific sub-text in every religious text that I read. How can it be, that the demi-gods and their Superior gods have such long time-spans that make them seem almost IMMORTAL to us??

For some time now, I have been nursing this notion- COULD the multi-limbed gods and goddesses with super-human abilities, space-crafts and atomic-weaponry, be actually super-advanced ALIENS with a keen interest in our world??

I don't intend this statement to be blasphemous, as I myself am as much a man of Faith as of Science and completely believe in the Divinity of Supreme Lord and the Holy Trinity . What I propose here is a new understanding of the DEMI-GODS as denizens of the same Universe living on different planets called LOKAS.

They have access to highly advanced Science (that we percieve as supernatural abilities) and a much better grasp of the Supreme Lord's Cosmic Plan! Of course, they are Spiritually more advanced too and perform their individual roles in running the Universe impeccably viz. Indra- the Lord of Rain, Varun- the Lord of Oceans and Yamaraj- the Lord of Death.

Could the Scientific advancement of these beings have resulted in their extended life-spans as well?? To us, the World seems to be ending, but our Brahma has JUST hit Middle-age, and is currently near the Noon of the 1st Day of the 51st year of his life!

By my calculation, Lord Brahma's current age of 50 Deva Years (

155 Trillion Human Years) + Half a Day (

1.85 Billion Years) amounts to the massive figure of 155.521852 Trillion Solar Years which would also be the Age of OUR Universe approximately!!

It is noteworthy that unlike any other belief system in the World, Hindu Cosmology talks about Time frames that are even FURTHER in the mists of time than the approximations arrived at by current Science (Age of Universe - 14 Billion years).

Whether we consider them advanced aliens or demi-gods, these beings would be FAR FAR Superior to us in Scientific as well as Spiritual pursuits and we should keep that in our mind while reading about their super-human feats in the ancient chronicles. Respecting the authority of these same sources, in this post, let us embark on a journey of Scriptural Space-Exploration .

Our planet is the only KNOWN planet which has given birth to Life h owever, it does not follow that it is the ONLY one capable of supporting Life!

There are Billions and Billions of Stars in each Galaxy Billions of Galaxies in each Universe, and as we learnt in the 2nd post ( Black Holes and Bhagavatam ), Billions of Universes in the Material Creation!! It is more likely than not, that Life in its myriad forms exists in not just one but many other planets as yet undiscovered by the human race.

Scientifically, it is still undetermined whether the universe exists by itself or is just one of the countless trillions within a larger Multiverse , itself contained within the Omniverse that is the Material World.

Even if we forget the Multi-verse and Parallel Universes we encountered in a previous post, there are still enough planets within our OWN Universe, which could be inhabited by alien species. Here, I would quote my favorite author, Arthur C. Clarke to put a very valid point across-

Almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species, his own private world! But how many of those potentially habitable worlds are ALREADY inhabited, we have no way of knowing!

Yet, as he quite eloquently states, the barriers of distance are crumbling one day SOON we may meet our Equals, or our Masters, among the stars.

Sadly, Human race today, is like the proverbial Frog-in-the-well. We have been cocooned by our Atmosphere and sheltered from the harsh realities of Universe for so long, that we just can't remember how things are outside of it. But there are entire Solar Systems, Galaxies and even Universes that are inaccessible to us right now and it would be good to remember the plausability of Life existing somewhere out there.

Different Worlds in Our Universe

Let us begin our journey with a brief insight into our current place in the Universe by means of this animation:

It would be immediately clear from this video that we are an extremely tiny and insignificant part of this gigantic Universe and there are billions and zillions of worlds out there about which we have absolutely no clue even today. Fortunately for us, the Ancients were NOT as short-sighted or limited by Scientific Theories as we are today, and have described planets, galaxies and even multiple Universes in this Material Realm which would act like what Science calls an Omniverse .

The Puraansgive THREE different divisions of our Universe and label them as the:

  • Urdhva-loka (Highest abodes),
  • Madhya or Bhu-loka (Middle ones), and
  • Adho-loka (the Lower realms).

Let us try to understand what the fourteen planetary systems or Lokas refer to and what is their geographical and spatial arrangement.

Each Universe is shaped like an egg (Brahmand) and within it exist the three levels of Lokas. There are 14 planetary systems comprising the three Lokas and below them exist the 28 different Hells. It is interesting to note that various Puraans claim the original abode of Shiva to be at the boundary of this Universe and NOT Kailash.

This, then is the Original and Supreme abode of Shiva where He resides till the end of Creation and is visited by the other gods in their space-crafts (aliens again?). This would also make sense, since geologically, the Himalayas (of which Mount Kailash is a part), did not rise up till about 5o million years ago!

All these planets are within the material world and under the control of Devi Durga, therefore the Material Creation is also known as Devi-dham.

Development of higher consciousness, starts with human beings, and further increases among the denizens of higher planetary systems. Our Earth is situated close to the middle of these planetary systems and represents the Mortal Realms known as the Bhu Mandala .

Jain Scriptures also describe a similar form known as the Lok-purush or the Cosmic Man. The torso and head of the Cosmic Man contain a series of heavenly realms where the inhabitants experience lives of pleasure. The legs represent a series of seven hells, which offer an endless variety of torments.

For us, the most important part of the universe, is the disk at the Loka-purush's waist, representing the MIDDLE-WORLD, where humans live and great teachers can be born. In this post, I shall take you through the 14 planetary systems starting with the Top planets first and gradually progressing to the Lower ones.

URDHVA-LOKA or The Higher Planets

The Higher Planets are abodes of super-intelligent, super-human, semi-divine and spiritually advanced beings. Loosely they may be understood as the Heavenly planets compared to the Middle Realm of Earth-like planets and the lower Hellish realms.

This group contains SIX planetary systems shown in the image above as the top six Lokas. The lowest of these, the Bhuvar-Loka, lies immediately above the Earthly Realm or Bhu-Loka.

The HIGHEST planet in the Material Realm is the abode of Lord Brahma , the progenitor of this universe. Along with him are present, his consort Saraswati and other spiritual entities who, after eons of spiritual penance have been able to transcend the bonds of Material world and reach this plane by traversing through the Milky Way.

At the time of final dissolution of the material planets the residents here transform their subtle bodies into spiritual bodies and enter the eternal Vaikuntha planets which begin 26,200,000 yojanas ABOVE the Satyaloka.

This is the abode of the four Kumars named Sanat, Sanak, Sanandan, and Sanatan and is located 120,000,000 yojanas below the Satya-Loka.

They are the first incarnations of Lord Vishnu and represent the Gyan-shakti (power of knowledge) of the Lord. They are collectively referred to as the Kumars because they are immortal and live for the entire duration of universal time, yet retain their appearance of 5 year old kids!

Because of their pure nature, they have easy access to the Brahma-Loka as well as the Spiritual Realm and regularly visit Lord Vishnu in the Vaikuntha.

The next Loka lies 80,000,000 yojanas below the Tapaloka and is the abode of great rishis. 20,000,000 yojanas below Janaloka is the Maharloka which is another abode of great saints and sages.

These Lokas are populated by mystics who can move between any planets within the material universe at speeds unthinkable to modern Science and the greatest of sages, such as Bhrigu Muni , live in this place. The inhabitants have a life span of one whole day of Brahma (4.32 Billion years)!

When the fire of devastation reaches this planet the residents transport themselves to Satyaloka where they live further before the highest of planets is also destroyed. They then transform their subtle bodies to spiritual and enter the spiritual realms.

Here, by means of his Karma, a soul can either go higher, up to Satyalokaand become Brahma's associate, or down, to the level of the Devas or demigods .

The abode of the 33 Vedic gods also known as the Trayastriṃśa in Buddhist cosmology is located on the peak of Mount Meru , the central mountain of the world, at a height of 80,000 yojans.

This Loka corresponds to the concept of Heaven as described in the Western sense of the term. Here the King of the Gods, Indra rules with his brothers and companions. His entourage comprises of Angels, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Maruts, Vasus and other divine beings.

This is one of the most opulent planetary system with unimaginable riches, wish-fulfilling trees, supersonic space-crafts, ability to travel in different dimensions, long life-spans, and freedom from disease and disability. The duty of these Demi-gods is to manage the affairs of the universe, protecting its inhabitants against the demons.

The capital city of this world is Amravati - Abode of the Immortals. Indra and his fellow-residents obtain all the pleasures of life because of the wish-fulfilling cow Kamdhenu. This divine cow, the three-headed White Elephant Airavat as well as the Flying Horse Uchhaihshrava (

Greek Pegasus) were the riches Indra obtained after the Churning of the Cosmic Ocean.

However, the 33 gods do not have a completely worry-free life here. In particular, they find themselves frequently challenged by the Asuras who dwell at the foot of Sumeru, plotting for ways to overthrow the Devas and take over their kingdom.

Scriptural references make it equivalent to the Biblical Heaven or Islamic Jannat where the good souls go after death to reap the benefits of their good Karma.

If they become advanced in devotional service, they can advance to one of the higher Munilokas but if they become attached to material enjoyment, they will degrade into a lower position of a semi-divine being of even a Human again.

This planetary system roughly corresponds to our Solar System and contains Five major planets plus the Sun-God. However, there are two planets outside the Solar System included in this - Dhruva Loka or Pole Star and the realm of the Sapta-rishis or Big Dipper.

These Lokas are the abodes of Semi-divine beings who are one notch higher than the Humans. They assist the demigods in various ways and sometimes interact with the humans. By advancement in their service they can become a Demigod or by indulging in enjoyment, be born as a Human on the Earthly Realms.


Dhruv-Loka

It is the planetary complex revolving around the Polestar that is said to be 10,000,000 yojans below the Maharloka. It is described as the center of a bright ring of stars identified with our galaxy, Milky Way.

In every material universe, there is one Vaikunth planet with an ocean of milk where Lord Vishnu resides on an island called Shvetadvipa. In our Universe, this planet is situated in the Eastern side of Dhruvaloka and is the abode of Lord Kshirodakshayi Vishnu!

This transcendental island is 200,000 square miles and covered with desire trees for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord who resides here with Goddess Lakshmi and other pure, transcendental entities.

As it is a spiritual planet, it is eternal and therefore remains when all other planets within the material universes are destroyed. It is believed to be the pivot for all material stars and planets with even the Sun, revolving at the speed of 16,000 miles per second around the Dhruvaloka.

As mentioned in a previous post < Black Holes and Bhagavatam >, this Loka is located at the Galactic Center which is formed by a Super-massive Black Hole which may act as a portal between the Physical and Spiritual Realms.

The abode of the Seven Great Seers or the Sapta-rishis located 100,000 Yojans below the Dhruva-Loka.

The seven rishis are the most advanced spiritual guides for Humanity and have been present at all major time periods of our History. Astronomically, their abode is recognized in the form of the Big Dipper or Ursa Major constellation and it always revolves around the Dhruv-Loka or Pole Star.

Rishi Vasishth was the preceptor of the Solar Dynasty or Suryavansh while Vishwamitra was the guru of Lord Rama. There are numerous stories and legends in the ancient scriptures which relate the immense services these rishis have provided to different rulers on our planet since the beginning of time.


Nakshtara-Loka

Nakshatra Mandala is the stellar neighborhood of the Solar System perceived as the starry night sky. It is generally equated with the Zodiac Map around the Earth and represents the different constellations visible to us from Earth.

Lokas of Solar Planets

The next Lokas are those of the major Solar planets viz. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn which are the abodes of the divine-beings called Budh, Shukra, Mangal, Brihaspati and Shanaichar respectively.

An alternate view is that these are spherical shell regions in which the respective planet's orbits are situated and these shells contain one after the other in the order of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These are believed to be located at a respective distance of 2,00,000 Yojans each.

Similarly, the Surya-Loka refers to the sphere of the Sun-god and the Solar neighborhood. It is located at a height of 1,00,000 Yojans above the Earth.

The Most importnt thing about this Loka is that it is situated bang in the middle of the Bhuloka and Bhuvarloka, rotating through the time circle of the zodiac. Thus, it represents not only the center of the Solar System, but ALSO the center of the Universe!!

Since all observable data has shown the Universe to be expanding all around us, it MAY in fact BE true that our Solar System occupies the central position in the Egg-shaped Universe that we exist in. Those interested in knowing more can go through this article by Dr. Russel Humphrey - < Our-galaxy-is-the-centre-of-the-universe-quantized-redshifts-show >.

It is not so easy to determine the real space structure of the universe because there's no INDEPENDENT measure of distance in the universe. Hence, the astronomers have to look at a map of redshifts and directions in the sky from where the light has come. Then to get the distance to the source galaxy they have to assume the Hubble law.

Such observations have confirmed that numerical values of galaxy redshifts are ‘quantized’, tending to fall into distinct groups. According to Hubble’s Law , redshifts are proportional to how far a Galaxy is from us and an analysis of these shifts shows that galaxies tend to be grouped into (conceptual) spherical shells concentric around our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

Chandra/Soma is the Sanskrit name of the Moon-god and hence, this Loka includes the satellite of Moon as well as its orbital neighborhood.

It should be remembered that when the scriptures talk about the Sun or the Moon-gods, it does not imply that the Star and the Satellite themselves are revered as Gods! There are deities who have been given the responsibility of these Heavenly bodies and THEY are the ones referred to by these terms.

Moon influences the tidal processions and growth of vegetation therefore it is considered the life-giver for all living beings on earth. Here the celestial, intoxicating beverage called Soma is also available which is consumed by Indra and other Devas especially when they are getting ready for a battle.

Rahu is the North node of the Moon's orbit while its counterpart Ketu is the southern one. It is said to be situated 80,000 miles above the three previous Lokas and is responsible for causing the Solar and Lunar eclipses.

Astronomically, Rahu and Ketu are identified with the Ascending and Descending Nodes of the Moon which are the points where the orbits of Sun and Moon intersect and if the alignment is correct, either a Solar or Lunar eclipse may occur.

Thus, these are not imaginary entities which periodically swallow the Sun and the Moon to cause an eclipse but ACTUAL positions contributing to the eclipses. The ancients were after all NOT crazy and the myths actually have underlying science inherent in them.

Siddhaloka, Charanaloka, & Vidyadharaloka

These planets are spread from above the Antariksh to the orbit of the Moon. Their residents are born with all the mystic siddhis naturally, including the ability to travel to other planets without using mechanical contraptions.

The Vidyadhars are winged-creatures corresponding to the western concept of Angels and Siddhas are advanced beings who do not need wings to fly on account of their mystic Yogic powers. Chaaransspend most of their time traveling between the different planetary systems, eulogizing the Lord.

To me, the above mentioned three dimensions seem to represent the DIVISIONS of ATMOSPHERE which is quite neatly divided into three bands as well!

It is quite possible, that the three Lokas mentioned here, actually refer to the Atmospheric layers of Thermosphere, Mesosphere and Stratosphere and these entities exist there in an ethereal form.

Now that we are done with the Higher planets, let's move on to the Middle level Earth-like worlds known as th Mrityu-Loka or Bhu-Loka .

We have already identified JAMBUDWEEP as our planet, in a previous post < Jambudvip - The Global Island >. The other six planets are arranged in a concentric fashion around the central planet Earth.

I wouldn't go much into the details of the different planets here because the descriptions more or less follow the same pattern as those of the Earth. All these planets have land surrounded by huge oceans and comprise of Humanoid species.

However, the denizens here live longer and are more materially opulent than the denizens of our world becuase right from Plaksh-dvipa to Shak-dvipa , there is a perpetual Treta-Yuga which is a more conducive age than our present Kailyuga.

I hope most of you would have grasped the point to be noted here - Besides Earth, there are SIX more planets which have Human-beings/Humanoids inhabiting them!

The significance of this information is huge!! If only we could identify these planets, we would be able to identify the location of OTHER intelligent species similar to us as well. I for one would be most eager to join if someone with access to astronomical resources needed for this endeavor decides to take the initiative..

Till then, let us do what we can and learn more about the other Lokas.

ADHO-LOKA or The Lower Planets

About 70,000 Yojans below the earth begin the seven lower planetary systems. It should be remembered that these planets may be LOWER in spatial co-ordinates but are materially MORE opulent than even the Higher Planets hence they are known as the Bila-Swarga!

These geographically lower worlds are:

These lower worlds are dark planets, devoid of any Sunshine and are hence artificially-lit by means of huge reflecting surfaces in the form of crystals and gems! Since time is not divided into days and nights due to no sunshine reaching these planets, they have no fear produced by time.

These planets are the residence of Daityas, Danavas, Panis, Nivat-kavachs, Rakshasas, Kalkeyas, Nagas, Uragas who are all engaged in illusory material enjoyment with no thought of spiritual liberation. All residents bathe in elixirs which free them from any anxiety or physical disease, as well as any signs of physical aging.

  • The planet Sutal is the abode of Bali Maharaj , the most benevoent and just king of the Asura race, who was blessed by Lord Vishnu to become the Indra for the next Manvantar.
  • In the Lower planets of Mahataal and Pataal, reside the Nagas or the semi-human serpent people. The Nagaloka is a splendid place with unimaginable riches. All darkness is banished here because of the brilliantly glowing jewels on the hoods of the huge serpents. The King of the Nagas, Vasuki resides here in his capital Bhogavati .

  • Buddhist texts mention eight major kings of the Nagas - Vasuki, Takshak, Nanda, Upananda, Sagar, Balvan, Anavatapta and Utpal. The same are also referred to as the 'Eight Dragon Kings' in Chinese and Japanese legends.

Narak is the Hindu counterpart of Christian Hell and Islamic Dozakh .

This place acts as a purgatory for the souls who have commited the most abominable actions on the earthly plane. Unlike the Eternal Hell of Western religions though, this place is temporary and once the soul has learnt its lesson, it is free to move back into the regular dimension.

There are 28 different hells described in the Vedic literature and these planets are: Raurav, Sukar, Rodha, Tal, Vishsan, Mahajwal, Taptakumbh, Lavan, Vilohit, Rudhiramabh, Vaitarni, Krimish, Krimibhojan, Asipatravana,

, Lalabhaksha, Darun, Puyuvah, Pap, Vahnijwal, Adhahshira, Sandansh, Kalsutra, Tamas, Avichi, Swabhojan, Apratishthit and Aprachi.

The ancient sages have made provisions of expiation for those sinners who feel guilty in their conscience after committing their sins. Only those sinners who do not expiate for their sins fall into these hells. Although life here seems to go on for an eternity, in actual fact the duration of one's Karmic sentence here may be only seconds or moments.

All these Hells are under the domain of Surya-putra Yamaraj where he delivers judgement according to the record kept by his assistant Chitra-gupta.

As I understand, the sins are paid off in hell only when you have achieved the human form at the end of the 84 lakh births you have taken.. at all other times, the soul is immediately transferred to a new body as soon as it leaves the previous one.

Below these planets is the

which forms the bottom of the Universal Egg or the Brahm-and.

Foundation of Our Universe

At the base of our Universe lies the immense Garbhodak Ocean on which reclines the second form of Lord Vishnu - Shri Garbhodakshayi Vishnu , resting on the Eternal serpent, Ananta-Shesha . Creation by Brahma >.

Anant-Shesh has thousands of hoods and each of the hoods carries a bright gemstone that illuminates the azimuths. At the end of every Kalpa, Brahma goes to sleep and rests for the night.

The time has come now for the Maha-pralaya when fiery poison emanates from Ananta's thousands of hoods and destroys all Creation. This is the Sankarshan form of the Lord from whose eyebrows appears the three-eyed Rudra who destroys the three worlds and dances the dance of destruction known as the Tandav.

Through GOOD Karma and right inclination, one can ascend to the Spiritually advanced Higher planets through OKAYish Karma, indulgence of senses and unbridled desires, one can descend to the Spiritually deprived but Materially advanced Lower planets. And through really really really BAD Karma, one may have to suffer in one of the Hellish planets!

This, I believe is the central learning from all this knowledge. Even if you are a Deva or a Rishi , there's no guarantee that you won't be born as a Rakshas or an ant or a bacteria in your next birth! There are numerous instances where a Divine being was cursed to be born as a Human or an animal because of his bad Karma.

The only certain way to get out of this Samsara or the Never-ending Cycle of Birth and Death is to keep the Lord in your heart in every action that you do, in every thought that comes to your mind, and in every breath that you take.

I conclude this post with a statement from the Brahma-Vaivarta Puraan -

385 comments:

his is whatt said in Geeta and Bhagavatam, existence of species which are more intelligent than us. Rovers, Outlanders and probes which are invented by us and sent in to space are indeed finding new species. Many species "DO" exist.Science always Spirituality. :)LK

The 10th Vishnu avatar, Kalki, is supposed to be from the "other" world. That says it all..

I know :) the scriptures definitely contain a lot of other world descriptions.. Its fascinating to think that our ancient texts may actually be the chronicles of various advanced alien species!

Or they could be the stories of our earth told by those keeping a watch over us and trying to put some sense into our brains :))))

Ahhh well. Hopefully Pritee we're headed in the right direction )

ur work is always inspiring. Impressed by ur work. Krishna bless you.

Thanx a lot @saroj! Hare Krishna :)

I liked your view Vineet ji and want to suggest you to go ahead of this scientific view-point. Whatever you described as per hindu scriptures is "Kshar Purush/Had bhumi" which is perishable. SO go ahead and describe "Ashar Purush" and "Uttam Purush".

Thanx a lot for ur feedback Nabyn. M sure no one can describe the Supreme Lord though.. words ain't enough to do justice to His glories.. Hare Krishna :)

Surely we r on d right path. There r supposed to be only quater of dharma adhering people in this kalyug. Which is absolutely true, so.

RADHE RADHE ,
DEAR FRIEND, KNOW THE GOD.star sun is a proton having app 9 planets.in our body or a body there are billions of electrons or small planets serving as lokas inside like outside.the seed/programme/sperme travles journey in upper part or direction or upper lokas as tej or downwards to lower part or lokas as its destiny is to amalgate in other or create new one.
A/ ABOUT 5000YRS AGO Vedvavyasaji ne god(Specifically all our hindu gods) ko sabse pahle visualise kiya.u know his santakaram bhujgam GAGANSADRISYAM. here is gagan ,sky, sunya, zero, space has been reffered as god vishnu.SO GOD IS SPACE.THERE IS SPACE ABOVE US,INFRONT OF US,WITHIN US. everything wants a space somewhere that is lap of god.in infinite auto forms.
B/vishnu, space desended next in form of celestal bodies about billions of yr ago.there r about 15 billion glaxies each having about 15 billion stars .next it appeared in seeds or programmes of all living beings.in infinte power from one grain of wheat crores of wheat grain can be produced.next it decended in electrons.next it in quarks i . smallest no charged particles.these r only main 4-5 forms but it is infinte forms infinite god plays role in infinite forms.
C/EACH FORM of GOD HAS INFINTE POTENTIAL.even we everyone is also one of his form, but even whole life is passed we fail to recognise ourselves. regonise yr true form FROM today & have the god qualities of allmighty incorporated in yr life or enjoy sachidananda.RADHE RADHE.
D/VEDVYASYAJI NE ved likhe.here in four veds he wrote any thing or aauhti given to fire or i e surya or agni dev is yagya.kisi bhi chiz ke liye prano ki aahuti di jati hai ya jijan lagana padta hai.

E/next vedvyasaji wrote 18 PURANS. NEXT HE WROTE BHAGWAT.bha for bhakti, g for gyana,wa for varagya,t for tyaga.we can go for only 1st & 2nd step .3rd & forth r two difficult in kaliyug or present time.only last gautam budha or mahavir achived 2000yrs ago those higher stage.so we can hear bhagwat only ,but jivan me utarneki liye its to difficult.RADHE RADHE.
F/then vedvyasa wrote mahabharat & GITA. here he also depicted all moral lessons of life with reference to society &karma.though all the same lessons were earlier described by him in vedas,puran,bhagwat,but the same all here again for welfare of humans or understaning or realising god here he described in different way again. radhe radhe
G/even then vedvyasa was not satisfied. then he wrote BALLILA OF KRISHNA,& PREMLILA OF KRISHNA. THESE REPRESENT CHILD HOOD & YOUTH STAGE OF LIFE.so after FIRSTONE now is turn for 2nd one.here some other is krishna roop & OTHER IS PLAYING ROLE OF RADHA.SO PREM OR LOVE SHOULD BE PURE WITH GOOD FEELINGS &ONE SHOULD RECOGNISE THAT ONE IS WITH KRISHNA OR RADHA OR DHARMPUTRA YUDHISTIR.NOT WITH ANY DEVIL OR DURYODHAN.LOVER IS ALSO KRISHNA ROOP.& NEW BORN CHILD IS ALSO NEW KRISHNA AVTAR.LATER ON NEW CHILD AFTER DECEIVED BY OLD ONES MAY BEHAVE LIKE DEVIL IN KALIYUG. RADHE RADHE.

Radhe Radhe friend.. thanx for ur inputs :)

inspiring and great work.
Thanks for knowledge.

gr8 work , buddy! the art work and the insights are really eye catching! I recall Ravana calling his Son Mahiravna from the netherworld. the magic shown can also be teleportation..

@Manish the pleasure's all mine bro :)

&#[email protected] thanx buddy :) thts what i hv always believed abt transportation! These guys didnt even need to say - Beam Me Up Scotty :P

Amazing absolutely mind boggling stuff.Straight after the heart.Keep going.

Well vineet sir u r just doing a commendable job,i love to read this blog.pulls me more towards spirituality.But the only question that is always pricking my heart is why supreme god is putting poor souls like us through momentary joys and sorrows,repeated cycles of false births and deaths in this illusory world,is this the way of his to have fun??
waiting for your reply eagerly,
abnv (please pardon my poor english)
HARI OM.

Thanx for the kind words Abhinav.. well the cycle of birth and death is not falso but very real! and the Supreme Lord does not put us here bcoz of His own wish.. we, the souls living here wanted to enjoy on our own, without paying heed to God.. that's y He, like a benevolent Father, created a completely new world for us which is this Material World. Here we are free to seek whatever enjoyment we want but with each right comes a duty.. we will continue to live here till we dont realize where our REAL home is and make efforts to go back there.. that's y remember Lord in whatever u do.. in whatever form u believe He exists in.. As Krishna says in Bhagvad Gita - Aham Tvaam Sarva Paapebhyo Mokshyishyami :)

problem is that the same can be said of greek and norse gods.

and i consider alien encounters highly unlikely.

Perhaps explains the anomalies in history and the references to a bygone metal age predating India’s Bronze Age.

@Vineet
You are good blogger and You have good talent.

@Kishan Bailey totally. @Kaushik i dont think thts a problem! Its more than likely that they were the same Gods which were referred to by diff names by people using deiff languages.. already if u research, there r enuff similarities btw the Hindu and Greek gods!

Your article is thought provoking indeed! Nicely written

nice thread. interesting :P

Hi, really great knowledge about lokas at a place. Thanks alot for sharing in orkut too. Some doubt, where this "Thrishanku Swarga" exists. And i heard Kailas-Lord-siva's residence is very near to Himalayas, some depicts it as at Himalayas itself near to 'Manasa Sarovar". And another doubt is-i heard - that the path to Garuda valley-related to Hell/Naraka is located in Nalamala forests. Do it that near to earth.

Thanx a lot Meghana for ur appreciation :)
I think the Trishanku Heaven would be somewhere in the Bhuvar-Loka as he was not allowed to ascend to the Heaven Loka above it.. it would probably lie in the space called Antariksh.. Lord Shiva's Dhaam is on the Mount Kailash at the edge of the Material Universe but its reflection on Earth is the Kailash mountain that we see. Don't have any info about the last part of ur query but wil get back to u when I find the answer :)

Vineet sir, i wish we chat some day thoroughly on this topic,as i really need somebody learned and enlightened enough to clear my confusions.
regards,
abhinav.

Would be my pleasure Abhinav.. love to share whatever limited knowledge I have with anyone who's interested in knowing more about our ancient traditions and philosophy..

Seven heavens are seven planets in the solar system. Saturn is considered as seventh heaven where God Vishnu resides. This is same in Islamic belief as well. search as 'seven heavens' in wikipedia.

The real problem with todays modern science is that it is limited to physical level only. ie they cannot think beyond material world. rather other ancient scriptures tell about various metaphysical leves.

Brahmlolk and Vishnulok are not on Saturn or Pluto. they are worlds in different dimensions. just as we exist in the world of dreams. you can also call this world as a dream of 100 years. its really difficult for us to understand and explain untill we realise them.

TO realise such things we need to understand Vedic philosophy. you cant realise Vedas from Western philosophy.

U r a good blogger and researcher of our ancient scriptures.

you are really imaginative and also good at your research.
keep penning and enlighten us with more in this topic!!
Nice way of projecting the same in ur blog!

@Gaurav well if u read the above article it wud help u clear ur misconceptions :)

@Avtaar.. u may have a point there.. the different Lokas may actually exist in different dimensions, however, for the sake of simplicity, I have just described the Lokas as per Shrimad Bhagavatam and of course u r free to make ur interpretations of the same..

@MK thanx a lot buddy! I shall keep trying my best to share whatever I know with everyone here :)

So what about facebook-chat jenaab?i am sure u will be 'facing the book too'.
Regards,
Abhinav.

hmmmm, that is quite an interesting point! hadn't thought of it in this way but had considered the traditional approach (such as Heaven and Hell). Plus, people living in the different -lokhs have different adaptatins and powers suited to their environment. An interesting point nonetheless. :)

Thanx a lot @Hina :) m glad u found it interesting!

In math, the universe is packed with civilisations.. And the Indians are by far historically and present, the greatest mathematicians.. So the sum is that it's all true. Even the God of Abraham.. The spirit world is taught to be the real world, so I think we don't know until we pass back.. anywhere in the universe, has a viewpoint anywhere else in the universe to any given moment of the given lifespan.. In other words, all is now.

@Jesper I agree.. God is beyond the physical world and beyond Past, Present and Future..

‎Vineet that is some mind twisting thing you just brought in,it is awesome,the Lokas in Jain cosmology almost looks like a mincowisky light cone. i think those who gave us the idea about these are nothing but human being traveling in time. God is man from future.

&#[email protected] Sanyal thanx for the feedback! I have always been fascinated with the science in our ancient mythologies and while researching for this post I myself was surprised many a times wid the scientific parallels we can draw wid some of d current concepts! Who knows what more we may discover in the Future..

Vineet i really appreciate that you went through this all this history but i was amazed to see that they really knew the shape of the observable universe thats why they named it Brahmand shape like egg and originated from Brahma.

Trust me Aritra the pleasure was all mine.. and yes the Universe is known as Brahmand but it did not originate from Brahma rather it was the other way round according to scriptures!! check the post 'Creation by Brahma' for more clarity :)

I'm so fond of your blog here. Wonderful to see such a fresh view of the greatest metaphysical tradition on earth. Recently I was attempting to translate the Rig Veda. I fully admit that I am only 3+ years into my Sanskrit studies. However, what I "saw" in two of the verses: III.44.5 and III.45 was a description of rocket fuel and weather control as Ionospheric Heating. I'm sure some will think me quite mad. I am devoted to the Bhagavad Gita and practice a sort of Kashmir Shaivism, I have the deepest respect for the Sanskrit texts, which I believe is evident from my website. But I am wildly curious to know if anyone else sees these flavors in the Rig Veda?
http://www.metaphysicalmusing.com/articles/rigveda2012/regvedaindex.htm

Vineet your research is quite meticulous and interesting, poses a lot of questions and travels beyond the threshold of imagination.

Thanx a lot @sadhana.. that was precisely the intention.. to look at our religious scriptures from a scientific view-point and figure out what it all actually means!

good to see someone working on these forgotten facts tooo, which the world seems to say as fake

@sidb.. true.. the world needs to open its eyes to this ancient heritage and find out its own origins!

@Susan was great to know the translations you have deduced from the said verses.. wish u all d best for the path that you have taken up.. may the light of the Vedic seers guide you always :)

Thanks so much! I appreciate you having a look at my wild translations, and was glad you were not offended. I don't feel that finding this kind of technology in the Rig Veda diminishes the greatness of these Seers. In fact to me it enhances them. The possibility exists that Vishvamitra and others were not only men of great wisdom, but masters of science and quantum physics as well. Why not? The early translators, especially those biased western fellows, would not have had ideas such as weather modification, Ionospheric Heating, and uranium in their vocabulary. The Sanskrit texts are a vast ocean of jewel-like inspiration and mysteries. May the Light of the Vedic Seers guide me always, indeed! Thank you for that!

Not at all.. ur correct that the early translators of these works did not have relevant references to do a proper job of it.. I believe these texts are a treasure-house of ancient wisdom we just need to find the correct key to unlock their mysteries! May the Force be with You :)

I've been thinking about this topic for a very long time pondering over such facts. Your post has cleared many doubts. Brilliant! Hats off to your research! Thank You :) !

@Avimanyu thanx a lot buddy :)
finally u got the time to check this out )

Thanks again for this wonderful post! Books to inspire us all:
VEDIC STRING THEORY, by M. Anant Bhakta 2006, BookSurge, LLC www.booksurge.com

VEDIC PHYSICS, Towards Unification of Quantum Mechanics & General Relativity, by Keshav Dev Verma Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1991, 2008.

MAYA in PHYSICS, by N.C. Panda Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1991, 2005.

THE VIBRATING UNIVERSE, by N.C. Panda Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1995, 2000.

Vedic Physics, Scientific Origin of Hinduism, by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ph.D., foreword by Professor Subhash Kak Golden Egg Publishing, Toronto, 1999.

The Astronomical Code of the Rgveda, by Subhash Kak Munishiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2000.

Thanks Susan for information. Is there any pdf files available of any one of these. Please provide.

Thanx Susan for that interesting list! M sure the readers wil find them thought-provoking :)

You said: "Its fascinating to think that our ancient texts may actually be the chronicles of various advanced alien species!" I have waited so long to hear someone besides me say this. I'm just an old woman enraptured by Sanskrit, but I so agree with you! These verses in the VAYU Purana have intrigued me for many years:
VAYA PURANA, Chapter 39
[230] Beyond Brahmaloka and beneath the upper crust of the Cosmic Egg – in between these two is the PURA (Shiva’s city), his divine abode MANOMAYA (consisting of the mind).
[238] The city shines much with scattered diamond dust.
These worlds are light from within, meaning their reality does not consist of reflected light, as does our solid five-sense material world.
[239-42] … there are divine lotuses… made of gold… their inner surfaces are very tender. The lotuses covering up the whole place seem to be so many umbrellas.
Are these gold umbrellas some sort of protective technology? Are these beings vulnerable to Cosmic Rays, Gamma and X-Rays as we are?
[260-263] Some [of the inhabitants] are… horse-faced… a few have the faces of the lord of the beasts other have faces and bellies like those of elephants, others are elephant-faced a few are lion-faced and tiger-faced… others can assume any form they wish.
If this had been translated before today’s science began to fool around with genetic manipulation, naturally these creatures would have been seen as ‘mythology’. The same images of human bodies with animal heads are sprinkled on the ancient Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform tablets.

By now, I haven't read Vayu Puran but I honestly believe that creatures described above are original and not developed by genetic engineering. There are two possibilities of such creatures
A. Mating of two different species having same chromosomal properties (i.e. compatible genetic code for reproduction e.g. Mules)
B. These might be connecting links of two species having independent properties e.g. Skink or Draco refer: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/draco-lizard/

However, I would like to mention that Lord Shiva is the only surgeon known to me who performed such modification (Fixing animal head to human body while brain retains the same memory and properties) e.g. Prajapati Daksha who had Goat head & Lord Ganesha who had Elephand head on human body. Refer:the link below for brief detail on Daksha http://www.indianetzone.com/30/daksha_chief_patriarchs.htm

Thanx for the inputs mate.. they certainly seem plausible..

Quite true Susan! it's plausible that these creatures were a result of genetic engineering.. if we just stop denying the possibilty that the ancients were more advanced scientifically than us and open our minds, we could learn so much more from these scriptures than just the History of our planet. M glad God has given us this scientific insight.. may we make good use of this!

Hi again, Vineet sir, this time i just want to ask you from where do you get all these animated pictures appearing on your blog,i mean they all are just marvellous,at times i just right click and save many of them.And btw are u on FB??
abhinav

Great job My friend .
God bless u

Thanx a lot @Luckystar.. May God bless us All :)

@Abhinav thanx buddy i have been collecting images over the years and a lot of them are available on the net as well. You can stay in touch thru my e-mail id :)

Hi Vineet! I really appreciate your efforts and Hard work. However, I would like to mention few points..

A. Residents of Lower lokas (worlds) don't have ZERO spiritual inclination. They definitely have spiritual inclination. However this spiritual inclination is low. They believe in deities and worship them but usually desire profits in return of their devotion. Except few exceptions. e.g. Prahlad, Bali

B. Some of the Lokas described above, especially the lower ones, are a part of planet earth only. While a few might be closer to Earth core. Points like Bermuda Triangle are possible gateways to these colonies (Lok)& that's why human intervention at such locations leads towards mysterious stories.

@Lost somewhere.. appreciate ur inputs.. especially like the point abt Lord Shiva :) thanx

Thank you for the amazing work you have done on ALL your blogs here. The immense research and time and effort and putting it all together in a form that is easy to understand is much appreciated.

It is a must read for all who have difficulty in understanding Hinduism. Its a great source for children getting to grips with many aspects of Hinduism and I thank you for your mammoth work.

The many pictures and graphs and links that go with each blog is wonderfully put together.

I shall spread this blog so that as many people as I can so they can have the benefit of your tremendous work.

Mr Kiran Parmar
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hinduinfo/

Oh man!
@Kiran u hv been really really kind with your words but plz Don't thank me the pleasure is all mine! Kids today don't know anything abt their heritage and this is an effort on my part to bring it across to them in a scientific way. m so glad people r liking it n I thank you for sharing the link on the yahoo group as well!!
May God help us in this endeavor :)

Back in year 2001 onwards the interest to know about their heritage and religion from Hindus across the Internet arose. It wasn’t till 2006 that I decided to create a Yahoo forum to try and attempt to bring forward all those information into one place.
In 2009 I made an attempt to post something together quickly. I was taking extracts from various sources like you are put them in some logical order so that people would understand. So when I came across your website and saw the research you have put into it and have presented in the format I only dreamt of you made me very happy and very proud.
I hope you will keep going and continue to build a volume for future generations to come. You are the modern Ved Vyas and I wish you all the best. Dont ever stop please.
I want to start my project again but its a mammoth task to explain all those terminology in a lucid format and in some chronological order and to try and make some sense of all those confusing and varied stories and books of the Vedas and Upanishads.
I hope you will do it, if you have time and I truly wish you all the best.
This is the link to my humble attempts.
1] HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hinduinfo/message/1684
2] SANATAN DHARMA :- Shastras
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hinduinfo/message/1743
3] THE SANATAN DHARMA :- HINDUISM :- Introduction Part 1
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hinduinfo/message/1665
4] THE SANATAN DHARMA :- HINDUISM :- Introduction Part 2
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hinduinfo/message/1668
5] THE SANATAN DHARMA :- HINDUISM :- Introduction Part 3
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hinduinfo/message/1671

@Kiran i know what you mean! Consciously or unconsciously I have been doing the same thing dor almost a decade now.. but as you say it is sometimes difficult to make sense of the differeing descriptions from different texts and in my posts I have tried to find the mathematical HCF (Highest Common Factor) and present it for those who do not have the inclination or time to go through the heavy scriptures. I would be more than happy to go through your links and maybe we can discuss more about these topics on chat or e-mail.

And BTW please dont caompare me with the mighty Ved-Vyas Himself. I am nowhere near that level neither in my spiritual quotient nor the intellectual one :P All I am trying to do is simplifying the complicated texts for people like me and I hope God and technology helps me in spreading this ancient knowledge to as many people as possible!

Re:- ‘Ved Vyas’
I think anyone who can compile information from various Hindu sources without being biased or afraid to take on the differing and new views is indeed in principle a ‘Ved Vyas’ in thought.

Ved Vyas was a complier of information that had been written by many years before him. He did exactly what we are doing today --to lay it out in a format that the minds of today can understand.

Off course we may never come close to his intellect, but I was appreciating the value of your work done in that same manner.

My work
With own knowledge lacking in the in-depth meanings and terminology of the Vedas etc I felt I wasn’t doing a good job and stopped back in 2009.

I have started again because the information is almost all written for us today on so many websites. For example
http://www.scienceofsoul.com/aatmic/Research.html

I thus felt confident to try my luck again and attempt to compile it once more. I am trying to do it for my son in a hopefully simple language so that he can understand.
If I do complete it I will certainly email you and let you know. But you carry on the work the way you have been because it is a wonderful job.
[email protected]

Thank you very much indeed for your offer and interest.

Thanx again @Kiran and i'll contact u on e-mail for more interaction :)

incredible..u have covered a major portion. Its good to find like-minded people who understand concepts and are interested to know about the origin of their religion. You have put it across in the most readable form. Its has become a necessity today for every Hindu especially today's youth (& the younger generations to come) to know correctly about their religion, the science behind the religion and culture. This will not only strengthen their roots but also protect them against the wrong doings of other religions namely conversion, misguidance, purposeful misinterpretation etc. etc. You are doing a great work. Keep it up

Thanx a lot Mrinalini :)
That's what my intention is.. hope people take it in d right spirit and learn from it.. m doing my bit.. plz spread the knowledge wherever n whenever u can as well :)

nice one vineet. Infact I have been researching on the from quite some time, it started when I read Yoga vasisth couple of years back. A scientific connotation of moving to spiritually advanced planets is in the basic material of universe , our atom theory. if we take electrons as spirits ,nucleus as materialistic world, and each ring as these lokas, the more we are close to nucleus , the more energy we need and finally to get out of the rings (which is Moksha.

Thanx a lot @nikhil :) thats a really interesting way of loking at the atomic theory!

It is really good light of the base of spirituality. It is really beyond science. It is beyond imagination. I like this subject what you wrote. In fact i am more inclined to spirituality. In my youth i used to be a materialistic man. In due course time I have myself realized that i(ATMA) am true. Spirituality is endless in my view.

Very true @sadanand :) its true spirituality is more important than religion and materialism both and if u add science to it it becomes even more attractive for a person like me..

Try reading I, Rama age of Seers (www.i-rama.com) , evolution and space theories in the Rama's theory. Exciting read, you'll like it!

Love it. Thank you for this amazing post.

Interesting theory. I was kind of looking for something similar coz I also feel (moreso after watching a history channel documentary about lost city of dwarka ) that what our ancestors described as gods and flying chariots were actually supreme beings from another planet with special powers and possibly taking part in what goes around in our world.

But just correct 1 thing , Saraswati is not Brahma's consort. It cost Brahma one head to look at her in less than decent way. Look it up. He was more like a father

Thanx johnnie. btw Saraswati is indeed Brahma's consort.. the father thing is just a simile blown out-of-proportion.. Brahma being the creator is the father (figuratively) of ALL living beings! That ways he wud never be able to find a companion.. He is surely entitled to have a consort without being labeled an incestuous old man!!

This answers i searched for long time. The aspersion was that Brahma ran behind His own daughter. Osho spoke against Triniy as Brahma as lustful, Vishnu as shrewd and Shiva as full of anger.

I love some of Osho's lectures but I believe any man who attributes such human values to God has failed to realize the True Leelas behind these episodes

It nice to find out that someone out there has an keen interest in mythology and proving that its not a myth. The page is informational and impressive with justice to logic and reasoning.

I myself is a man of science but was actually troubled by the questions put by my mind on religious facts, from childhood we are brought up by the faith that god is there and stories that inspire and prove that there is well organised system out there. Many times i searched, asked, researched, analysed in my own ways to find out some answers but one logic fails the other and the confusion remains the same. Your post has life in itself proving that you might have many answers, logic, reasoning which may unlock many facts of hindu religion.

Anybody who provides knowledge belongs to the class of gurus (teachers) therefore i can consider you as one. There is a saying that a question is the first step to unlock its answer.

In this reply i will first discuss what i know and believe through various sources and research and then questions. ---as follows---

I am in this dilemma from quite a few years that the concept of god is true or false. From many feelings experienced by myself over the years i have strongly felt that god exists, but it was unpleasant to find that Hinduism is not simple and straight and on to it, these day we do posses the original preaching and holy text that may give us the right and accurate directions. One thing is contradicted by other and misunderstood often.

I have found that we do not posses any original holy texts and scrolls and ones we posses are dated 500 - 800 B.C (adi- shankaracharya) based on the (Sanskrit)writing skill and way. This was found by a team of sanskrit proff. university of oxford and others link: http://merki.lv/vedas/Vishnu%20Purana%2000%20(eng).pdf

Also a concept of godliness came forward given by Osho, in this concept Osho says "there is no god but godliness" he also says that "even Jesus Christ waited for someone(supernatural) to intervene at the time of crusification but no one came" according to some gospel (scrolls). He gives a logic that when god can exist without any creator or in other words he can exist himself without any external help why cant we.

Now the supreme questions that arose are:

1. can hindu texts present now can be believed as they are altered, edited many times previously.

2. Each puraan claims its own creator for ex: Lord Shiva existed first and he is central authority. In vishnu puraan Lord Vishnu is the supreme being and in many Bhrama (param-bhramh) is given supremacy. Agni puraan claims agni to be supreme and like wise. So what actually happened at the beginning of our universe.

(At this stage i accept the concept of multiverse and each universe have their own shiva, vishnu and bhrama " it is mentined in vishnu puraan that bhrama was confused on how to create the world, on this Lord vishnu called bramhas from other universe for an audience with our bhrama for inspiration)

3. Was the only land in whole Jambu dweep was India and neibouring countries, as we nowhere else in world find traces of hindu mythology and even other places are not mentioned in any text. for ex: Ramayana starts from awadh (now in Uttar pradesh) to sri lanka and hanuman was from kishkindha (now in karnataka forest region).

even mahabharata have traces of north india only.

4. why mythological creatures as yaksha, gandharva, rakshasha disappear from the earth, talking animals no more exist. No magic works and so on, if they belong to other world why not visit us now a days.

5. Many instances of a different story of the same event in different texts confuse the whole concept.

6. What i actually found that the only thing which a person is born to do is penance and moksha, so why do other things.

7. If sins are paid off in hell then earth should be painless(regarding the logic that soul was fresh after its time in hell and born again with equal opportunities)

8. What pleasure does god get in taking our test, and arranging all this which seems like complex game. calling us back through moksha and then releasing again.

9.The most top priority question is : Why we should praise the lord when we have not seen him doing anything (only heard un authenticated stories)

is it only to seek his help and enjoy life, and has he made us to pray him, then we are no better than slaves.

I myself is faithful believer of Hinduism but when questioned by a non believer, we do not have something concrete and logical. thousands of demi-gods and three supreme . whom to pray

If it is beyond our logic then also it should have something that we can firmly say and believe.

If you can please put a light on my questions then i may be pleased as i think that gyan can be brought to you by any means which we may think regardless but may be the ultimate answer, and i also believe that discussion improves knowledge.

Thanking you in advance for sparing time for this.

Woah. Thats a loooooong list of questions and its gonna take me a while to answer all of them but I shall try my best to find what ur lukin for..

Fist of all, the Puranans do differ in their approach but Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti (NOT Brahma)are their objects of devotion.. The difference in approach is becuase of different levels of consciousness or the GUNAS that a person is in.. for example, those in the mode of passion are morw inclined towards Goddes SHAKTI while those who are more Satvik in countenance gravitate towards Lord VISHNU.. Its just to attract people with different modes towards God


Beyond “Fermi’s Paradox” II: Questioning the Hart-Tipler Conjecture

Welcome back to our Fermi Paradox series, where we take a look at possible resolutions to Enrico Fermi’s famous question, “Where Is Everybody?” Today, we examine the possibility that the reason we’ve found no evidence of alien civilizations is because there are none out there.

It’s become a legend of the space age. The brilliant physicist Enrico Fermi, during a lunchtime conversation at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1950, is supposed to have posed a conundrum for proponents of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.

If space traveling aliens exist, so the argument goes, they would spread through the galaxy, colonizing every habitable world. They should then have colonized Earth. They should be here, but because they aren’t, they must not exist.

This is the argument that has come to be known as “Fermi’s paradox”. The problem is, as we saw in the first installment, Fermi never made it. As his surviving lunch companions recall (Fermi himself died of cancer just four years later, and never published anything on the topic of extraterrestrial intelligence), he simply raised a question, “Where is everybody?” to which there are many possible answers.

Fermi didn’t doubt that extraterrestrial civilizations might exist, but supposed that interstellar travel wasn’t feasible or that alien travelers had simply never found Earth in the vastness of the galaxy.

The argument claiming that extraterrestrials don’t exist was actually proposed by the astronomer Michael Hart, in a paper he published in 1975. Hart supposed that if an extraterrestrial civilization arose in the galaxy it would develop interstellar travel and launch colonizing expeditions to nearby stars. These colonies would, in turn, launch their own starships spreading a wave of colonization across the galaxy.

How long would the wave take to cross the galaxy? Assuming that the starships traveled at one tenth the speed of light and that no time was lost in building new ships upon arriving at the destination, the wave, Hart surmised, could cross the galaxy in 650,000 years.

Even allowing for a modicum of time for each colony to establish itself before building more ships, the galaxy could be crossed in two million years, a miniscule interval on a cosmic or evolutionary timescale. Hart asserted that because extraterrestrials aren’t already here on Earth, none exist in our galaxy.

Hart’s argument was extended by cosmologist Frank Tipler in 1980. Tipler supposed that alien colonists would be assisted by self-reproducing robots. His conclusion was announced in the title of his paper ‘Extraterrestrial intelligent beings do not exist’.

Why is it important that Hart’s argument wasn’t really also formulated by the eminent Enrico Fermi? Because Fermi’s name lends a credibility to the argument that it might not deserve.

Supporters of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) want to search for evidence that alien civilizations exist by using radio telescopes to listen for radio messages that extraterrestrials may have transmitted into space. Interstellar signaling is vastly cheaper than a starship, and is feasible with technology we have today.

Hart drew public policy consequences from his argument that extraterrestrials don’t exist. His paper concluded that “an extensive search for radio messages from other civilizations is probably a waste of time and money”.

Our political leaders heeded Hart’s advice. When Senator William Proxmire led the successful drive to kill funding for NASA’s fledgling SETI program in 1981, he used the Hart-Tipler argument. A second NASA SETI effort was scuttled by congress in 1993, and no public money has been allocated to the search for extraterrestrial radio signals ever since.

Just how convincing is the Hart-Tipler conjecture? Like Hart, Carl Sagan was an optimist about the prospects for interstellar travel, and Sagan published his analysis of the consequences of interstellar travel for extraterrestrial intelligence a whole decade earlier than Hart, in 1963. Sagan and his co-author, the Russian astronomer Iosef Shklovskii devoted a chapter to the topic in their 1966 classic Intelligent Life in the Universe.

The Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico was the site of NASA’s High Resolution Microwave Survey, a search for extraterrestrial radio messages. Credit: NSF

Like Hart, Sagan concluded that “if colonization is the rule, then even one spacefaring civilization would rapidly spread, in a time much shorter than the age of the galaxy, throughout the Milky Way. There would be colonies of colonies of colonies…”. So why didn’t Sagan, like Hart, assert that extraterrestrials don’t exist because they aren’t already here?

The answer is that Sagan, unlike Hart, considered unlimited colonization as only one of many possible ways that extraterrestrial spacefarers might act. He wrote that “habitable planets lacking technical civilizations will frequently be encountered by spacefaring civilizations. It is not clear what their response will be…

Perhaps strict injunctions against colonization of populated but pre-technical planets are in effect in some Codex Galactica. But we are in no position to judge extraterrestrial ethics. Perhaps attempts are made to colonize every habitable planet…A whole spectrum of intermediate cases can also be imagined”.

Besides assuming that interstellar travel is feasible, Hart’s argument is based on very specific and highly speculative ideas about how extraterrestrials must behave. He assumed that they would pursue a policy of unlimited expansion, that they would expand quickly, and that once their colonies were established, they would last for millions or even billions of years. If any of his speculations about how extraterrestrials will act aren’t right, then his argument that they don’t exist fails.

Photo of the central region of the Milky Way. Credit: UCLA SETI Group/Yuri Beletsky, Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory

The evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould was scathing in his criticism of Hart’s speculation. He wrote that ”I must confess that I simply don’t know how to react to such arguments. I have enough trouble predicting the plans and reactions of the people closest to me. I am usually baffled by the thoughts and accomplishments of humans in different cultures. I’ll be damned if I can state with certainty what some extraterrestrial source of intelligence might do”.

In 1981, Sagan and planetary scientist William Newman published a response to Hart and Tipler. While Hart used a very simple mathematical argument, assuming that an alien civilization would spread almost as fast as its ships could travel, Newman and Sagan used a mathematical model like the ones that population biologists use to analyze the spread of animal populations to model interstellar colonization.

They concluded that the rates of expansion assumed by Hart are highly unrealistic. Expansion will be drastically slower, for example, if civilizations control their population growth rates on any given planet to avoid ecological collapse, if colonies have a finite life span, and if alien societies eventually outgrow expansionist tendencies. Hart’s assumption that an alien civilization would spread almost as fast as its ships can travel isn’t plausible. It’s possible to walk across Rome in a day, Newman and Sagan noted, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. It grew much more slowly.

If the evolution of intelligent life is at all likely, other civilizations could emerge before any hypothetical first wave of expansion swept slowly over the galaxy. If several worlds produced waves of colonization, they might encounter one another. What would happen then? Nobody knows. The history of the galaxy can’t be predicted from a few equations.

For Newman and Sagan, the absence of extraterrestrials on Earth doesn’t mean that they don’t exist elsewhere in the galaxy, or that they never launch starships. It just means that they don’t behave in the way Hart expected. They conclude that “except possibly in the very early history of the Galaxy, there are no very old galactic civilizations with a consistent policy of conquest of inhabited worlds there is no Galactic Empire”.

So, Enrico Fermi never did produce a powerful argument that extraterrestrial intelligence probably doesn’t exist. Neither did Michael Hart. The simple truth is that nobody knows whether or not extraterrestrials exist in the galaxy. If they do exist though, it’s possible that discovering their radio messages would give us the evidence we need. Then we could stop speculating and start learning something.

We have written many interesting articles about the Great Filter, the Fermi Paradox, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and related concepts here at Universe Today.

And be sure to check out the rest of our Beyond Fermi’s Paradox series:


NASA’s Webb Telescope Will Be the World’s Premier Space Science Observatory – Here’s What Those Powerful Capabilities Mean for Astronomy

This image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows the heart of the globular star cluster Messier 92 (M92), one of the oldest and brightest in the Milky Way. The cluster packs roughly 330,000 stars tightly together, and they orbit the center of the galaxy en masse. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will observe M92, or a similar globular cluster, early in its mission to demonstrate its ability to distinguish the light of its individual stars in a densely packed environment. Webb’s high resolution and sensitivity will provide scientists a wealth of detailed star data relevant to many areas of astronomy, including the stellar lifecycle and the evolution of the universe. Credit: NASA/ESA Acknowledgment: Gilles Chapdelaine

Early observations of stars in the local universe will pave the way for years of discovery across a range of science topics

The combination of high resolution and infrared-detecting instruments on NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will provide astronomers with a wealth of detailed data on individual stars in the local universe. A team of scientists has developed tests of Webb’s star-resolution capabilities, which will pave the way for future observations and discoveries across many areas of astronomy, including dark energy, the stellar lifecycle, and the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time.

Artist’s concept of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, and Northrop Grumman

The combination of high resolution and infrared-detecting instruments on NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will reveal stars that are currently hidden even from the powerful Hubble Space Telescope. The wealth of additional star data will allow astronomers to investigate a range of questions, from star birth to star death to the universe’s elusive expansion rate. Early observations with Webb will demonstrate its ability to distinguish the individual light of stars in the local universe in a range of environments and provide astronomers with tools for making the most of Webb’s powerful capabilities.

“NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have been transformative, opening the door to the infrared universe, beyond the realm of red visible light. Webb is a natural evolution of those missions, combining Spitzer’s view of the infrared universe with Hubble’s sensitivity and resolution,” says Daniel Weisz of the University of California, Berkeley, the principal investigator on Webb’s early release science (ERS) program on resolved populations of stars.

Webb’s ability to resolve individual stars that are shrouded behind gas and dust in visible light will be applicable to many areas of astronomical research. The goals of this ERS program are to demonstrate Webb’s capabilities in the local universe and create free, open-source data analysis programs for astronomers to make the best use of the observatory as quickly as possible. Data from the ERS programs will be available to other astronomers immediately, and archived for future research via the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST).

Insight into Dark Energy

Webb’s ability to pick out details for more individual stars than we have seen before will improve distance measurements to nearby galaxies, which Weisz says will be crucial to one of the biggest mysteries of modern-day astronomy: How fast is the universe expanding? A phenomenon called dark energy seems to be driving this expansion. Various methods for calculating the expansion rate have resulted in different answers, discrepancies astronomers hope Webb’s data can help reconcile.

“In order to do any of this science, calculating distances and then the universe’s expansion rate, we need to be able to extract the light of individual stars from Webb images,” Weisz says. “Our ERS program team will develop software that empowers the community to make those types of measurements.”

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is designed to observe infrared light—wavelengths of light that are beyond the rainbow visible to human eyes. Infrared light’s longer wavelengths provide information that other wavelengths cannot, including star formation and other processes that take place behind thick veils of dust, which block the shorter wavelengths of visible light. Webb will detect a range of infrared light that overlaps with those observed by other NASA missions, but will also cover a significant portion of the infrared spectrum that they do not. This infographic highlights Webb’s overlapping and complimentary spectrum coverage with two NASA missions: the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope. Webb features a combination of Hubble’s imaging power and sensitivity with Spitzer’s infrared coverage, and goes beyond both to provide a wealth of new infrared data on the universe that is hidden beyond visible red light. Credit: NASA and J. Olmstead (STScI)

The Stellar Lifecycle

Seeing more stars will mean more insight into their lifecycle. Webb will provide new views of the full range of stages in a star’s life, from formation to death.

“Right now we are effectively limited to studying star formation in our own Milky Way galaxy, but with Webb’s infrared capabilities we can see through the dusty cocoons that shelter forming protostars in other galaxies—like Andromeda, which is more metal-rich—and see how stars form in a very different environment,” Weisz says.

Astronomer Martha Boyer, also on this observing program team, is interested in the insights Webb will provide toward the end of the stellar lifecycle, when stars become bloated, red, and dusty.

“NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope showed us that dusty, evolved stars exist even in very primitive galaxies where they weren’t expected, and now with Webb we will be able to characterize them and learn how our models of the star lifecycle line up with real observations,” says Boyer, an instrument scientist on Webb’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Early Universe via the Local Neighborhood

Resolving and studying individual stars is necessary for understanding the bigger picture of how galaxies formed and function. Astronomers then can ask even bigger questions of how galaxies have evolved over time and space, from the distant, early universe to the Local Group—a collection of more than 20 nearby galaxies to which our galaxy belongs. Weisz explains that even though this observing program will be looking locally, there is evidence of the early universe to be discovered.

“We will have Webb study a nearby, ultra-faint dwarf galaxy, a remnant of the first seed-galaxies to form in the universe, some of which eventually merged to form larger galaxies like the Milky Way,” Weisz says. “At great distances these types of galaxies are too faint for even Webb to see directly, but small, local dwarf galaxies will show us what they were like billions of years ago.”

“We really need to understand the local universe in order to understand all of the universe,” Boyer says. “The Local Group of galaxies are a sort of laboratory, where we can study galaxies in detail—every single component. In distant galaxies we can’t resolve much detail, so we don’t know exactly what’s going on. A major step towards understanding distant or early galaxies is to study this collection of galaxies that are within our reach.”

As the Webb mission progresses, Boyer and Weisz expect that astronomers will use the tools their team develops in unexpected ways. They emphasize that developing the program was an effort of the entire local-universe astronomy community, and they plan to continue that collaboration once the data come in. Their observing program team plans to host a workshop to go over the results of the program with other astronomers and tweak the software they’ve developed, all with the goal of assisting members of the astronomy community in applying for time to use Webb for their research.

“I think that is really important—the idea of working together to achieve big science, as opposed to a lot of us trying to compete,” Weisz says.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory when it launches in 2021. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.


Countdown to Data Preview Zero

For astronomers and students waiting eagerly to do science with Rubin Observatory, a milestone that brings everything one big step closer is about a week away: Data Preview 0 (DP0) will be the first in a series of three data previews leading up to the start of the Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). For this data preview, participants will access simulated data using the Rubin Science Platform (RSP). Although a small number of users have been accessing the RSP on an experimental basis, this marks the first time that a wider group of science community members are invited to access the platform, and are provided with a level of service and support. The process for selecting DP0 participants aligns with Rubin's commitment to research inclusion a diverse set of users will test this early version of the RSP in partnership with the LSST Science Collaborations.

The Rubin Observatory's Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) will cover a third of the sky each night, detecting billions of stars and galaxies, and millions of transients, variables, and moving objects. The LSST represents a data set of unprecedented volume and complexity, which will be far too large for scientists to download to their personal computers for analysis. Instead, scientists will use the Rubin Science Platform (RSP), a collection of services developed by the Rubin Data Management team that allow users to process, query, visualize, and analyze the LSST data archives using next-to-the-data computing resources provided by the project, accessed through a mixture of web portal, notebook, and Virtual Observatory services.

For many astronomers, using a remote service like the RSP to leverage the massive LSST data set for their science goals may cause a change to their established workflow or require learning new skills. Enabling scientists and students to start to familiarize themselves with the RSP's software and interfaces, so that they are ready for early science when Rubin begins operations, is a primary goal of Data Preview 0.

Because the RSP is in active development, and the Rubin pre-operations team is limited in its capacity to provide user support, participation in DP0 is limited to 300 scientists and students. The DP0 participants will be supported with resources and infrastructure (e.g., tutorials, seminars, communication channels, networking opportunities), and they will be free to pursue their own science at their own pace using the data in the RSP. The number of participants will be scaled up over the course of the pre-operations period, until at least by the start of Rubin Observatory Operations all data rights holders may have RSP accounts.

Rubin Observatory received a large number of applications for the first phase of DP0. Ensuring research inclusion and participation from a diverse set of scientists and students strongly motivated the applicant selection process. An algorithm was applied to the applications pool that made selections to increase diversity in participants from underrepresented groups in astronomy (e.g., gender, race, or disability-based), from a broad range of stages in their careers, (e.g., students, researchers, or faculty), and from across the four main Rubin science pillars and beyond. In order to ensure a diverse pool of applications, there are no prerequisites for participation other than having Rubin Observatory data rights, which are available to any astronomer working in the US and Chile, and named individuals of International Contributor teams. Participants in DP0 are not required to have knowledge of python or experience with Jupyter Notebooks scientists who have not previously had training or access to these resources are encouraged to use DP0 as an opportunity to familiarize themselves with new tools.

Because Rubin Observatory is still under construction, Data Preview 0 is using the simulated LSST-like data set generated by the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) as part of DESC’s second Data Challenge (DC2). The DESC's DC2 effort was a huge initiative over several years to simulate a set of images that imitate five years of an LSST-like survey over 300 square degrees. These images are very realistic: they have the same instrumental characteristics that are expected for the Rubin Observatory's LSST Science Camera, and they were processed with an early version of the LSST Science Pipelines that will eventually be used to process LSST data.

The DC2 simulated universe includes galaxies, clusters, large scale structure, Milky Way stars (some of which vary in brightness over time, such as RR Lyrae and Cepheids), and Type Ia supernova explosions. These aspects make the DC2 simulation a practical basis for scientists learning to use the RSP during DP0, a useful data set for astronomers interested in extragalactic astrophysics, and a powerful tool for cosmological analyses. The DESC has made the DC2 data set publicly available (see this note), and more information about the DC2 simulation can be found in this paper.

There will be two stages of DP0. The first stage (DP0.1, in 2021) will make the original DESC simulated data set available to users, and in the second stage (DP0.2, in 2022), the data set will be reprocessed by the LSST science pipelines in order to produce data products that will more closely resemble those of an LSST data release. The DP0 delegates will fill an important role in both phases, testing and providing feedback as they gain experience working with LSST-like data products using the Rubin Science Platform (RSP). For the Data Previews, the RSP will be hosted at the Interim Data Facility (IDF) on the Google Cloud Platform. This agreement marks the first time a cloud-based data facility has been used for an astronomy application of this magnitude. The IDF will use Google Cloud’s Storage, Kubernetes Engine and Google Cloud Compute, which will together provide the Rubin Observatory user community with the ability to experience LSST-like data in an early version of the real analysis environment.


Research Box Title

The combination of high resolution and infrared-detecting instruments on NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will reveal stars that are currently hidden even from the powerful Hubble Space Telescope. The wealth of additional star data will allow astronomers to investigate a range of questions, from star birth to star death, to the universe's elusive expansion rate. Early observations with Webb will demonstrate its ability to distinguish the individual light of stars in the local universe in a range of environments and provide astronomers with tools for making the most of Webb's powerful capabilities.

"NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have been transformative, opening the door to the infrared universe, beyond the realm of red visible light. Webb is a natural evolution of those missions, combining Spitzer's view of the infrared universe with Hubble's sensitivity and resolution," says Daniel Weisz of the University of California, Berkeley, the principal investigator on Webb's early release science (ERS) program on resolved populations of stars.

Webb's ability to resolve individual stars that are shrouded behind gas and dust in visible light will be applicable to many areas of astronomical research. The goals of this ERS program are to demonstrate Webb's capabilities in the local universe and create free, open-source data analysis programs for astronomers to make the best use of the observatory as quickly as possible. Data from the ERS programs will be available to other astronomers immediately, and archived for future research via the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST).

Insight into Dark Energy

Webb's ability to pick out details for more individual stars than we have seen before will improve distance measurements to nearby galaxies, which Weisz says will be crucial to one of the biggest mysteries of modern-day astronomy: How fast is the universe expanding? A phenomenon called dark energy seems to be driving this expansion. Various methods for calculating the expansion rate have resulted in different answers—discrepancies astronomers hope Webb's data can help reconcile.

"In order to do any of this science, calculating distances and then the universe's expansion rate, we need to be able to extract the light of individual stars from Webb images," Weisz says. "Our ERS program team will develop software that empowers the community to make those types of measurements."

The Stellar Lifecycle

Seeing more stars will mean more insight into their lifecycle. Webb will provide new views of the full range of stages in a star's life, from formation to death.

"Right now we are effectively limited to studying star formation in our own Milky Way galaxy, but with Webb's infrared capabilities we can see through the dusty cocoons that shelter forming protostars in other galaxies—like Andromeda, which is more metal-rich—and see how stars form in a very different environment," Weisz says.

Astronomer Martha Boyer , also on this observing-program team, is interested in the insights Webb will provide toward the end of the stellar lifecycle, when stars become bloated, red, and dusty.

"NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope showed us that dusty, evolved stars exist even in very primitive galaxies where they weren't expected, and now with Webb we will be able to characterize them and learn how our models of the star lifecycle line up with real observations," says Boyer, an instrument scientist on Webb's Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam ) team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Early Universe via the Local Neighborhood

Resolving and studying individual stars is necessary for understanding the bigger picture of how galaxies formed and function. Astronomers then can ask even bigger questions of how galaxies have evolved over time and space, from the distant, early universe to the Local Group—a collection of more than 20 nearby galaxies to which our galaxy belongs. Weisz explains that even though this observing program will be looking locally, there is evidence of the early universe to be discovered.

"We will have Webb study a nearby, ultra-faint dwarf galaxy, a remnant of the first seed-galaxies to form in the universe, some of which eventually merged to form larger galaxies like the Milky Way," Weisz says. "At great distances these types of galaxies are too faint for even Webb to see directly, but small, local dwarf galaxies will show us what they were like billions of years ago."

"We really need to understand the local universe in order to understand all of the universe," Boyer says. "The Local Group of galaxies is a sort of laboratory, where we can study galaxies in detail—every single component. In distant galaxies we can't resolve much detail, so we don’t know exactly what's going on. A major step towards understanding distant or early galaxies is to study this collection of galaxies that is within our reach."

As the Webb mission progresses, Boyer and Weisz expect that astronomers will use the tools their team develops in unexpected ways. They emphasize that developing the program was an effort of the entire local-universe astronomy community, and they plan to continue that collaboration once the data come in. Their observing-program team plans to host a workshop to go over the results of the program with other astronomers and tweak the software they’ve developed, all with the goal of assisting members of the astronomy community in applying for time to use Webb for their research.

"I think that is really important—the idea of working together to achieve big science, as opposed to a lot of us trying to compete," Weisz says.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world's premier space science observatory when it launches in 2021. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

Leah Ramsay
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland

Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland


See, for example, Whitcomb and Morris (1961), 7, 121–122, 253–271, and Dillow (1982).

Bible scholars have transliterated this Hebrew word in different ways (which differ in technical linguistic exactness) in English. I found these in the commentaries and other scholarly works that I consulted: rakia, raqia, raqiya, raqia‘, raqia‘, raqiya‘, ra.qi.a. I have chosen to use raqiya‘ to help readers make an approximate pronunciation.

Exodus 39:3 Numbers 16:39 Isaiah 40:19 and Jeremiah 10:9.

Job 37:18 Psalm 136:6 and Isaiah 42:5 and 44:24. It should be noted that Job 37:18 speaks of spreading out the שְׁחָקִ֑ים (shechaqim), which is very often translated “clouds” in many translations, though sometimes translated as “sky” or “skies” also. The Hebrew text of Job 37:18 does not use shamayim (“heaven” or “sky”) or raqiya‘. The other verses here refer to “spreading out” the earth.

All the verses cited by Humphreys are in poetic passages, except the verses in Ezekiel and Zechariah. Ezekiel is describing something he saw in a vision. God is speaking in Zechariah. He refers to stretching out the heavens, laying the foundation of the earth and forming the spirit of a man within him. But translators differ on the correct tense of the verbs. The NASB, NKJV, KJV and NET translations render all the active verbs in present tense. The LXX uses present participles. The ESV and CSB render the verbs in past tense.

Hereafter this source is referred to as BDB. Also, Koehler and Baumgartner (2001), 1:104. Hereafter this is referred to as HALOT.

The square-bracketed words in the translation reflect the syntactical relationship of the words in Hebrew and accurately reflect the meaning.

BDB, 752–758, and HALOT, 1:825–827.

“This particular word always occurs in the plural, perhaps indicative of the fact that the face is a combination of a number of features,” according to Hamilton (1999), 727.

P e nê has many other very related meanings when it is preceded by various prepositions. So, for example, with the preposition, מ, we find “from the presence of” in Genesis 3:8 and “from the face of” in 6:7, 7:4, and 8:8. When used with the preposition, ל, it is often translated as “before” (e.g., Genesis 7:1 [before me] and 10:9 [before the Lord], or the same idea in different words as in 6:11 [in God’s sight]. See BDB, 816–819 and HALOT, 2:941–944.

Later, many others translated the rest of the Old Testament into Greek. “Septuagint” comes for the Latin word for “seventy.”

The Greek word stereôma is the translation of the Hebrew raqiya‘ in Genesis 1:6–8.

The phrases are ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου (above/upon/over the abyss) and ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος (above/upon/over the water).

This verse is Genesis 6:2 in the Hebrew Bible.

2 Samuel 22:12 Job 35:5 Job 36:28, 37:18, 37:21, 38:37 Psalm 18:11, 36:5, 57:10, 77:17, 78:23 Proverbs 3:20 and Isaiah 45:8.

The serious exegetical problems with the gap theory are revealed in Fields (2005).

Whitcomb, who co-authored The Genesis Flood (1961) with Morris, also held to the canopy theory and says that God made two different firmaments, one on Day 2 and another on Day 4. But he does not look carefully at the raqiya‘ phrases. See Whitcomb (1986), 53.

Whitcomb and Morris (1961), 77, 215, 229 and 240–241, expressed similar views of the raqiya‘ and the “waters above the firmament”, but without any attention to the Hebrew text.

He discusses 12 stark differences between the biblical worldview and the ANE pagan worldviews and concludes “When we compare the characteristics [of ANE myths] with what we find in the Bible, it becomes clear that on every one of these points the biblical worldview differs—and not merely slightly, but diametrically. . . .Beneath any possible surface similarities are radically different ways of thinking about reality” (63).

While I disagree with Poythress’s interpretation of Genesis 1 (Poythress 2019), that it is using phenomenological language to describe creation from the perspective of a person on the earth, I think he does make a good case against the idea that the ancient Israelites and their pagan neighbors literally believed what is represented in the Logos diagrams.

The phrase “windows of the heaven” occurs five times in the Old Testament (Genesis 7:11 and 8:2 2 Kings 7:2 and 7:19 and Malachi 3:10). In Genesis, the phrase is surely figurative for torrential downpour just as “fountains of the great deep” is figurative for subterranean waters. In 2 Kings the man talking to Elisha is referring to a hypothetic situation to express his disbelief. Even if this pagan believed in literal windows of heaven (which is doubtful), the statement could not be legitimately used to say that the Bible teaches that heaven has literal windows. The phrase in Malachi clearly is used figuratively of God’s abundant material pro-vision in response to the people tithing as He commanded. The context of the four other uses of ארֲֻבּהָ (arubbah), translated as window or chimney, are referring to literal physical objects.

In Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:8, she mentions the “pillars of the earth.” The Hebrew word translated “pillar” is ָמצוּק (matsuq) and is used only one other time in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel 14:5, the context shows that it is referring to a pillar of rock. But in 1 Samuel 2:8 it very likely is used metaphorically for Hannah is praising God for who He is and that He is sovereign over all. The parallelism of verse 7 equates the poor with the lowly people and the rich with the exalted. In the parallelism of verse 8, the poor are the needy and the nobles are the pillars of the earth. In verse 9, she contrasts the godly and the wicked. And she ends her prayer referring to the King and His anointed. God is sovereign over all these people. There is no basis in Hannah’s prayer for saying that the pillars of the earth are big pieces of rock, much less that they hold up the physical earth.

Psalm 75:3 also speaks of the earth having “pillars”, but uses a different word (ַעמּוּד , ammud). But in this poetic text, this may again be metaphorical since the verse talks of people “melting,” wicked people’s horns representing their pride, and the Lord having a cup filled with wine that the wicked must drink. So, it is not wise to base one’s idea of the shape and structure of the earth from this verse. It is also unlikely that there are literal, physical “pillars of heaven”, as mentioned in Job 26:11, since verse 7 says that He “hangs the earth on nothing.”

Faulkner (2019, 71–90) discusses lunar and solar eclipses.

For further study and possible scientific implications of this understanding of the raqiya‘, Faulkner (2016).

This understanding is part of the basis for Dr. Russell Humphreys’ young-earth creationist “white hole cosmology,” which is his theory for explaining how we can see the light from stars or galaxies that are millions or billions of light-years distant from us, if the universe is only about 6,000 years old (as the Bible clearly teaches). I am indebted to him for stimulating my initial thinking on this subject of the raqiya‘. See the discussion about the raqiya‘ in Humphreys (1994), 58–60. While I’m not convinced of Dr. Humphreys’ scientific model of a “white hole cosmology,” I think his brief comments about the raqiya‘ are correct.

See a summary of the problems in Snelling (2009), vol.1, 662–667. This does not necessarily mean that there was no watery (whether liquid, vapor, or ice) canopy in the upper atmosphere of the pre-Flood world. It only means that without a clear biblical basis or a sound scientific model for believing that it existed, we cannot be dogmatic about (either for or against) the canopy theory. In the past, canopy advocates have suggested that the canopy could explain the longevity of the pre-Flood patriarchs and the giantism we see in the fossil record (i.e., plants and animals that are virtually identical to living plants and animals only much larger). But other creation scientists suspect that genetics may be the key to understanding these facts. Perhaps, more research in the future will shed light on this question.

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